Parlez-vous francais? No. Not for 13 years.
July 30, 2013 10:42 AM   Subscribe

I graduated high school having been in french immersion and when I graduated I did the testing and I was offically bilingual. Hurray! However, that was over 10 years ago and I have hardly spoken it since I graduated. Now, suddenly, my job wants me to get my french proficiency tested to see if I can satisfy the required language requirements for my branch. (We need to have X# of people able to speak French because a percent of our clients speak french as their first language, and right now we're down a person apparently). Au secours!

I have maintained my ability to read French, as well as to understand others speaking French. As for my communication... well, I can make myself understood but I am pretty sure my grammar is atrocious and it takes time for me to remember the word for some things. I think I can get it back, but I want to know of some ways to do so. I am listening to local French radio to see if it jogs my memory. Finding some sort of conversational French class of sorts is an option, and I'm exploring it, but I'm looking for other things I can do to help me to get my French back. Preferably FREE things. Suggestions?
posted by PuppetMcSockerson to Writing & Language (12 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
My friends and I have lately had a friendly competition going on Duolingo, which has both a website and an app, and which makes learning a language a little more fun and game-like, with levels and points and timed tests and such. I've found it ideal for your situation, re-learning a language (Spanish in my case) rather than learning a new language from scratch (French in my case).
posted by jeffjon at 10:48 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

See if there are any native French speaker who need conversational English and perhaps you can each help the other immerse back into it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:50 AM on July 30, 2013

To improve your speaking, you must speak! A conversational French class sounds ideal, but if that option doesn't work out, conversation partners are also helpful.

The best way to find a conversation partner depends on your community. If you're in a large city, you should be able to find some kind of language-oriented Meetup group or a conversation partner matching website. If you're in a smaller place, try community hubs like the public library (maybe you can swap English tutoring for French tutoring via a literacy program?) or any other second language resources in town. Basically, any place where you might find a French native speaker who wants to work on their English and would be willing to meet you for coffee and bilingual conversation practice every other week or so. (If you're in a smaller place, but the population is mixed francophone/anglophone, Meetup could still be a good possibility.)

If all else fails and you can't find someone locally, try the bigger language exchange websites (I don't have a specific one to recommend, but Google and you shall find) ... you would definitely be able to find someone to Skype with.
posted by snorkmaiden at 10:54 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm in almost exactly the same boat, in a different part of Canada. Duolingo is great, I've used Memrise to work on vocab as well.

You're out East, from snooping on your profile. just for this, I'm not a creeper!
If you're near Fredericton, I know the Centre Communautaire Sainte-Anne (on University St) has a number of events happening, they might be good people to talk to?

And finally, hey drop me a line and we'll Skype together!
posted by Lemurrhea at 11:07 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Je confirme : il faut parler ! Parler, parler, parler ! Trouves-toi quelqu'un ou un groupe (ou les deux !) et mets-toi à discuter jusqu'à ce que tes joues n'en peuvent plus. Parce que fais gaffe, le français fait beaucoup plus travailler les muscles des joues que l'anglais, et quand on n'a pas pratiqué depuis un moment, on s'en rend vite compte. Ça fatigue bien au début. Donc il faut parler !

Muscle-toi les joues, MarionnetteFilsDeChausetteEcossaise :)
posted by fraula at 11:22 AM on July 30, 2013 [10 favorites]

For free or cheap speaking practice, try meetup groups or Skype-based language exchanges (The Mixxer and Conversation Exchange are often recommended. I signed up for both for Spanish but never used them due to internet issues.)

If you don't mind paying, you could look into Craigslist for someone to give you private conversational lessons. I've had good luck with this in Toronto, with reasonable prices ($15-30/hr). Just be strict and say that you want absolutely no English as part of your conversations - that makes a HUGE difference.
posted by Paper rabies at 11:30 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Why not go to classes at Alliance Francaise?
posted by Ironmouth at 11:57 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Craigslist usually has some postings for people looking for conversation partners to improve their language. Live Mocha is teeming with people wanting to speak live for practice.
posted by WeekendJen at 12:01 PM on July 30, 2013

Try Duolingo; it's good for vocabulary and grammar/sentence construction. It also may make you feel a little better about how much you remember. and Android app (maybe iPhone too).
posted by jennaratrix at 12:26 PM on July 30, 2013

The BBC has some very nice language resources. They have free beginner and advanced classes on French here.

Are you a Federal public servant? If so, the evaluation is not as straight-forward as you might think. I would very strongly recommend getting professional help, with a teacher who is used to the Federal testing guidelines. The evaluators for spoken language are looking for very specific use of language and grammatical constructions. Even a fluent speaker can benefit from coaching, so that they can give the right responses for the questions.
posted by bonehead at 2:53 PM on July 30, 2013

If you have anyone at work who currently speaks French, speak to them in French exclusively. This will have the benefit of increasing your work-related vocabulary. And if any of your co-workers speak French as their first language, they will appreciate being met more than half way for a change. It can be hard to resist the lure of going back to English, but if you enlist people's help, they can help keep you on task.
posted by looli at 9:18 PM on July 30, 2013

Tu peux écouter les podcasts de France Inter pour améliorer ta connaissance passive de la langue. Par exemple dans cette émission il y a des comédiens qui lisent des extraits de livres.
posted by Baud at 7:56 AM on July 31, 2013

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